What is thrush?
Thrush is a common mouth infection in infants. It is caused by yeast called Candida albicans.
Candida is often found in babies’ mouths without causing any problems. But because their immune systems are still developing, sometimes the amount of yeast overgrows, leading to an infection.
Thrush is more likely to happen after your child has taken antibiotics for some other infection.
What are the symptoms of thrush?
Thrush looks like whitish-grey patches on the inside of the cheek, the roof of the mouth or on the tongue. Although the patches look like milk, they cannot be rubbed off. Thrush is not usually painful.
Some babies with thrush also develop a yeast diaper infection which looks like red, shiny skin in the folds of skin. It usually spreads to the entire diaper area. Sometimes there can be sores on the lower stomach and upper thighs.
Babies can pass the infection to their mothers when breastfeeding. Women whose breasts are infected with Candida can experience:
- Red or sensitive nipples.
- Shiny or flaky skin on the areola.
- Unusual pain during nursing or painful nipples between feedings.
- Stabbing pains deep within the breast.
How do I treat thrush?
- If your child has thrush you will need to see your doctor. Your baby may need an anti-fungal liquid medication that is prescribed by your doctor. Your baby will usually take the medication 4 times a day for 14 days.
- Always remember to clean bottle nipples and pacifiers carefully in hot water after each use.
- Use breast pads without a plastic barrier, which can encourage the growth of Candida.
Call your doctor if:
- You are breastfeeding. You may need treatment to prevent the infection from passing back and forth between you and your baby.
- You or your baby develops painful white lesions inside the mouth.
- Your baby has a yeast diaper rash. Your doctor can prescribe an anti-fungal medication to use in the diaper area.
- Your child is older than 9 months and is getting thrush often.
Reviewed by the following CPS Committees:
Public Education Advisory Committee
Last updated: July 2008